WTF 2016 Recap

Well folks, it’s been almost two weeks since WTF and we’re just starting to feel like our normal selves again. Let's start off by saying our weekend on Wolf Run Ranch wasn’t quite what we expected. In fact, it wasn’t even close.

It all started with our RV running out of gas on the way up from the Bay Area (there were no gas stations for nearly 100 miles on the highway we took. The trip ended up taking us nearly a full day. Painfully long drive. Should’ve known right then and there we were in for a rollercoaster ride that weekend. Once we got to the festival, we had a little eye of the storm on Thursday night - we danced our asses off, explored the illuminated forest, and checked out the interactive art. All awesome. But then, the storm hit. Literally.

It was practically nonstop monsooning through Sunday morning. We and the rest of the festival guests did a pretty goddamn valiant job of pushing through the pain (despite us seeing a lot of soaking wet people in next to no clothes huddling for warmth in the freezing rain. Go team). But the roller coaster ride didn’t end there. A team member got stung by a yellow jacket (what piece of shit insect is out in the rain?!), and between frequent runs to the medical tent for her shockingly swollen ankle and our realizing about 3 minutes after stepping out of our RV and into the 40 degree, rainy weather that we made a mistake in packing shorts for the entire weekend, you could say that we weren’t exactly prepared for what WTF was going to bring.

Despite all of that, though. WTF (and Oregon itself) somehow managed to wriggle its way into our hearts. An Oregonian stranger pulled to the side of the road to offer us assistance in getting gas. We took our lack of cold-weather preparedness and turned it into a blessing in disguise, because it forced us to go shopping at the vendor village and get some sick leggings. Everyone we met while “shopping” was so warm-hearted and welcoming that we probably spent even more money than we should’ve. Sure, there was no resolution to the yellow jacket sting, but who is to blame for that, really. Yellow jackets have always been dicks.

On top of all that, even in the terrible weather, the festival goers didn’t miss a beat. Sure, Saturday morning got a slow start, but there were still people at every stage by nighttime, bearing the harsh conditions so bravely that you almost forgot how cold your toes were. That is a special sort of crowd, and by Sunday, when the weather gods began to smile on us again, EVERYONE in the festival made up for any lost time by partying the hardest we’ve ever seen on the final day of a festival. God bless the WTF splash pool.

The point is, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But we barely even remember that, because WTF is just that great of a festival. It’s something different, unique in all the ways you’d expect from a festival so close to Portland. And we don’t regret a goddamn thing (except walking near that yellow jacket). Now, a little more about the highlights of our WTF experience.

We think we can all agree that the Splash Stage and Illuminated Forest were not only the coolest things at WTF but some of the coolest concepts at any festival we’ve ever been to. Who doesn’t want to dance to melodic house beats in a 3-foot pool, surrounded by awesome inflatables and people playing around in the water like kids? And who doesn’t want to wander through an illuminated funtown-forest with instrumentally rigged cash registers that pop out a tray of candy, a maze of streamers to run through, a stage made of backlit rubix cubes, or a cloud room filled with pillows and puffery to play with? Certainly not someone we want to hangout with.

The setting: we had heard about the setting from friends who attended in years past but nothing could prepare us for the stunning scenery we were surrounded by. With rolling hills on one side of the fest, and a majestic Mount Hood as the backdrop behind the main stage, the natural beauty of WTF’s locale is second to none. Oh and don’t forget the patch of forest with intricately built huts and other structures to feast your eyes on. Truly, the only downside was the weather - but we heard that was an anomaly this year. We’re just thankful we had an RV. 

The music: maybe the least surprising thing of the weekend was the music. What the Festival brought exactly what we were hoping for: a perfect concoction of genres with an extra splash of bass. Double dose of Buku, Shades, Phutureprimitive, & Ekali were some of our favorite acts just to name a few. But an unexpected favorite was Pressha at the Qube stage on Saturday night. No one in the group had heard of him prior but as most festival goers know, sometimes the best acts are the ones you stumble upon at random.

Photo credit: Daniel Zetterstrom

Photo credit: Daniel Zetterstrom

The food: just wanted to also give a little shout out to the food vendors. EVERYTHING that we ate at WTF was fucking incredible, from the dumplings, to the poutine, to the mac n' cheese with bacon. Well fucking done, team.

All in all, What the Festival was an incredible experience and frankly, it was nice to get out of the California festival scene for a weekend and see what the Pacific Northwest had to offer. Despite the issues we ran into, we’ll definitely be heading back up there next year to do it all again. Only this time we’re flying, lathering up on bug spray, and bringing a million layers just in case. Til' next time, WTF!